A couple of weeks ago, Heinz was running a cute funny ad for Heinz Mayo (a gooey, sickly product, laden with fat and sugar) on British TV. It was an excellent ad (much better than the product).
The theme of the ad was that Heinz Mayo is so good it’s “like having a New York deli man in your kitchen”. Two kids getting ready for school get their mayo-slathered sandwiches from the deli man, whom they address as “mum”. Then another man, suit-and-tie, very respectable, picks up his lunch and is heading out the door when the deli man bellows “Hey! Ain’t you forgetting something?” and the two men kiss.
“Love you. Straight home after work, sweet cheeks.”
You can see it for yourself on Youtube – just search for Heinz Mayo. Although some US news media have made a point of the ad not being broadcast to children, they omitted to mention that this was because of the product it was selling, not because two men exchange a marital kiss.
But in a campaign apparently organised – or at least inspired by – the Christian Right in the US, over 200 people “spontaneously” complained to the Advertising Standards Authority about this “offensive” “Inappropriate” ad, and Heinz had a fit of spinelessness and pulled the ad and grovelled a bit about how awful it was that they hadn’t realised that some people would find the ad not cute and funny but offensive. Left a nasty taste in my mouth, so I contacted Heinz and told them I liked their ad and wouldn’t be buying another Heinz product until i saw it back on the air. (I like Heinz baked beans. And Heinz tomato ketchup. And Heinz tomato soup, in a certain childish mood when all I want is sweet tomatoey goodness. But I think they’d all taste like rotten homophobia to me right now, with all Heinz’ concern about being a “family product”, and not offending freaked-out homophobes.)
The petition to reinstate the ad (here) has gathered 11895 signatures (as of 10pm Monday) since it was set up last Wednesday. Yes, it’s just an ad. But Heinz is being taught, as every signature is added to that petition, that a lot more people were offended by their weak-kneed “oh goodness yes two men kissing is offensive, how could we not realise?” than by the ad itself.
At the same time as this story was breaking, last week, a different story was breaking for a British homophobe. Stephen Green, of Christian Voice, is the kind of hate-filled creep who likes to show up at Pride and tell people they’re going to burn in hell. No one minds people standing around quietly waving an ill-spelt placard quoting from the Old Testament – indeed, it’s a popular sport on Pride day to get your photo taken kissing in front of such placard-wavers – but Stephen Green was going up to people and pressing his hate-literature on them, and claiming (when he refused to stop doing this after he was politely asked to quit) that his being prevented from harassing happy Pride-goers was an infringement of his religious freedom.
Last year, Stephen Green tried to sue the Director General of the BBC (Mark Thompson) over the BBC2 broadcast of Jerry Springer the Opera and Jonathan Thoday of Avalon for its subsequent theatre tour. He lost, of course: it was a nutty attempt. And the Court ordered costs against him.
Stephen Green has to pay Mark Thompson and Jonathan Thoday £90,000. He has to pay the BBC’s solicitors £55,000. He has to pay Thoday’s solicitors £35,000. That’s £180,000.
He admits himself: he doesn’t have the money. His solution? He told Thompson and Thoday:
It should be enough for Mark Thompson and Jonathan Thoday that they got away with blasphemy, insulting God and the Lord Jesus Christ, at least in this life. For these rich, powerful men to pursue me into the bankruptcy courts over money I don’t have would be vindictive.
Yeah, because it would be totally vindictive of them to expect Stephen Green to pay up what he cost them in his frivolous lawsuit.
But Stephen Green has told them they should just swallow what he cost them and pay up – “in the interests of goodwill and justice”.
It just gives me the warm fuzzy giggles. Especially since Christian Voice were trying to collect names on an e-petition to Thoday and Thompson begging them because they’re rich to just put up with what Stephen Green cost them.
No, not begging: demanding.
And in a week, they’ve got about 770 signatures. Compare that to the Heinz petition….